Presented on Wednesday, June 20, 2018 at The Park Church.
The letters of Olivia Langdon Clemens reveal her deep emption as well as the more ordinary impulses of her thought. In communications with friends and family, and with her world-famous spouse, Olivia exposes her intelligence, fortitude, gentleness, kindness, humor, love for her husband and children - along with her anxieties, self-deprecation, and flaws. Possibly the following statement, written to her husband during their plunge towards bankruptcy, best indicates her world view: "I feel so strongly these days that we have not a great while to stay her and that there is only one thing of real importance to us. To do all the good that we can and leave and irreproachable name behind us" (9 April 1893). The presentation will summarize critical views of Olivia as well as highlight selections from her letters.
Barbara Snedecor directed the Center for Mark Twain Studies and was Assistant Professor of American Literature at Elmira College. In 2015, she was awarded the Living Heritage Award by the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce. In 2017, she received the Henry Nash Smith Award. She has published novels, personal essays, and poetry as well as Mark Twain in Elmira, Second Edition, and scholarly essays connected with Mark Twain Studies. She currently is preparing a collection of the letters of Olivia Langdon Clemens for publication.